The 10 Toughest Jobs to Fill in 2016

If you think recruiting for top candidates has been brutal this year, just wait … but there are some effective strategies to help .
Trying to hire the best and the brightest candidates—or even the mediocre and the somewhat dim—has been a massive challenge this year, no matter the size or location of the company. Unfortunately for most recruiters, next year is shaping up to be even tougher as corporate pressure mounts to attract candidates who match the skill sets most in demand.

While there’s no magic bullet to slay this dragon, there are talent acquisition strategies that are proving to be effective, including taking a new look at which groups to target as potential sources for high-quality candidates.

“We’ve found that becoming more flexible in what we seek can make a big difference,” said Michael Kannisto, global director of talent acquisition at New York City-based International Flavors & Fragrances. “We’re looking beyond the obvious options to candidates in adjacent industries and related functions who have similar skill sets,” and then training those new hires in the specifics of the available jobs, he said.

A willingness to look at younger candidates who will need to grow into a position is another popular option, especially since the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the retirement-age population will grow by 38 percent over the next 10 years. “The aging population will drive up demand in many fields, especially health care, so considering applicants who may be a few years away from what typically is considered a perfect fit for a job can be a great strategy,” said Kyle Kensing, author of a new CareerCast report on the 10 toughest jobs to fill in 2016.

The fact that rapid technical innovation makes many skills obsolete quickly adds to the need to incorporate lots of on-the-job training, and reinforces the notion that a candidate’s once-perfectly matched skills may be outdated by his or her first anniversary on the job.

“If you look at a job like information security analyst, hiring is projected to rise by 37 percent over the next six years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), yet the job’s requirements are changing at a rapid pace,” Kensing said. So if a company has a rigid job description for this position, it’s not accounting for evolution within the job that could happen over just the next few months, he added.

Of course, planning a recruitment strategy well before any specific jobs need to be filled is the smartest strategy, yet one that hasn’t been adopted widely given the just-in-time nature of many industries.

“Through workforce planning and predictive analytics, it’s really critical to determine ahead of time what your hiring needs will be,” said Kannisto. “Nursing is a great example: You can look at expected retirements among your staff to start planning recruitment efforts three years before you need those hires.”

Efforts to recruit upstream by forging relationships beyond traditional college sources also can be effective, he added. Consider creating programs for high school students, as well as with diversity organizations that work with younger age groups, as a great way to help meet recruiting goals well beyond next year, Kannisto said.

And for those more worried about the near future, these are the 10 jobs that CareerCast expects will be especially difficult to fill next year due to a range of reasons, including BLS-projected talent shortages in each field, retirements due to an aging workforce and above-average growth in demand:

Data Scientist

Roughly 6,000 companies are expected to hire for an estimated 4.4 million IT jobs with direct ties to data analysis next year, reported CareerCast via Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner. Data science’s hiring boom is tricky to measure, say analysts, because the field is so new that the BLS doesn’t yet track specific hiring needs. In addition, the skill sets and responsibilities are still being defined at many companies, which likely will increase the recruiting challenge as hiring managers redefine what they seek on a regular basis.

Electrical Engineer

While demand for electrical engineers is expected to be strongest in Chicago, Houston and San Diego, the greatest supply of candidates will likely be in Los Angeles and New York, thus creating an imbalance, reported Randstad US, which also estimates that there are currently 17 openings for every electrical engineering candidate.

General and Operations Manager

To meet the expected 12.4 percent growth in demand that the BLS anticipates by 2022, recruiters will have to get busy soon. That growth rate translates into 613,000 open positions to fill for general and operations managers over the next seven years.

Home Health Aide

Hiring is projected to rise by 48 percent over the next seven years, which the BLS says is a direct result of the aging population. Nearly 600,000 positions will need to be filled to meet the expected demand, while the low median salary of $20,820 limits the scope of the candidate pool.

Information Security Analyst

The proliferation of cloud-based technology is a driving force in the need for this job. Microsoft reported that by the beginning of next year, North American companies will need to employ at least 2.7 million cloud-computing workers, including information security analysts, and labor analysts say the supply can’t meet that demand.

Marketing Manager

With the explosive growth in digital marketing and an already high average annual salary of $127,130, marketing managers are in very short supply, reported the BLS. Looking to new college graduates to help fill the pipeline won’t suffice, as marketing is one of the skill sets most in demand by college recruiters, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Medical Services Manager

The requirements for this position overlap the nation’s highest labor shortage industries, as estimated by BLS: health care, social assistance and professional business services. The BLS projects 73,300 new hires will be needed in the field by 2022, and predicts a 23 percent overall increase in employment.

Physical Therapist

The American Physical Therapy Association estimates that in 2016, demand for full-time physical therapists will exceed 229,000, with a pool of candidates of around 196,000—creating a gap of 33,000 unfilled jobs. Like other health care fields, demand is up due to greater accessibility to health insurance and the aging population.

Registered Nurse

The BLS projects a 19 percent growth rate by 2022, but it also estimates that 525,000 currently working registered nurses will have to be replaced due to retirements, which puts the total number of new hires anticipated at 1.05 million over the next seven years. In addition, the average age of working nurses is expected to rise to 44.6 from the current 42.7.

Software Engineer

The Conference Board estimates there will be three jobs available for every new college graduate from a computer science program in 2016. Not surprising, since the BLS estimates 222,600 software engineering jobs will need to be filled by 2022.

– See more at:


15 Simple Life Changes You Can Make to Become a Better Person

Most of us want to be a better person—whether at home, in the office, or just when we’re out running errands. The problem is where exactly do you start?

I realized a couple years ago that I was a jerk at times to people I worked with and to people I feel I couldn’t get any value out of. Over the past couple years I’ve become a much better person by working on myself.

Here are some of the things I’ve been implementing into my daily routine to become a better person on a daily basis.

1. Think Before You Speak

Words can carry a lot of weight. Think about the first time your significant other told you that he or she loved you. How awesome did that feel? However, words can also be hurtful. Have you ever told an inappropriate joke or called someone a bleeping-bleep? You probably felt pretty lousy afterward.

Always take the couple extra seconds to think about the impact of your words before you say them out loud.

2. Embrace Change

Change helps us grow as individuals. Instead of resisting change, you should be open to trying new things, even if they scare you. For example, you may be nervous about trying that new Thai restaurant in town, but you might discover your new favorite restaurant.

Besides embracing change, you should also advocate for positive change. You could start a food drive or recycling program at the office, which would both make your community a better place.

3. Be Grateful

According to research, those who have gratitude journals are more optimistic and feel better about their lives. Additionally, those who discuss gratitude are less envious of wealthier people, are more willing to help others, and can prevent health concerns like coronary artery disease.

4. Do the Right Thing

As an adult, you should definitely know the difference between right and wrong. Let’s say you don’t clean up after your dog after taking it for a walk. You don’t need someone to remind you that you should clean up the mess. You know that it’s your responsibility and that it’s not fair to leave it there for someone else to step in.

5. Use Your Strengths

Remember, your skills and talents are a gift. Don’t let them go to waste. If you know how to play the guitar, then share it with others. It will bring joy to you and the people in your life.

6. Address Your Weaknesses

At the same time, you also should be aware of your weaknesses. It’s another way that helps us grow as individuals. Take the time to make a list of your weaknesses and set goals to work on them.

I am a hard people to deal with. I realize this. Learn to admit and addresses your weaknesses and then find ways to make them better.

7. Take Care of Yourself

Exercise. Eat healthy. Get enough sleep. You’ve heard that advice a thousand times before. But taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to make yourself a better person. For example, how can you go outside and play with your kids when you always feel lethargic? How can you be more productive at work when you’re exhausted? Not only will you be happier and more productive, your loved ones and colleagues will also appreciate it.

8. Be a Hero

That doesn’t mean that you have to put on a pair of tights and cape. It means helping an elderly neighbor with the groceries. Opening doors for others. Buying a cup of coffee for the person in front of you when her card gets declined. Listening to a friend when his relationship just ended.

9. Pay Attention to Others

Doesn’t it feel great when someone asks how your day went? Try and do the same for others. Even if you have to jot down reminders in your calendar, it can make all the difference in the world to someone when you follow up with them on important events.

10. Stop Being Wasteful

Just because you can have five plates of food at an all-you-can-eat buffet doesn’t mean that you have to—waste is a problem for the food service industry. You can also reduce water usage by taking shorter showers and create less trash by recycling. And, don’t forget that unplugging devices when not in use can save electricity. During your part, no matter how small it may seem, can be really important for the environment.

11. Be Curious

Evidence, shared via The Huffington Post, found that curiosity can help strengthen relationships, keep your brain stimulated, lessen anxiety, keep you happy, and help you learn—even uninteresting subjects.

12. Forgive Yourself and Others

Humans make mistakes—even when it’s you who makes the mistake. And sometimes those mistakes really sting. However, instead of devoting your energy holding onto that mistake or feeling guilty, forgive that individual—or yourself—and focus on the future. Remember, revenge isn’t good for your health, and the best revenge is your is success and happiness.

13. Don’t Be Impatient

When we get impatient, we get aggravated and may do something we’ll regret. Ask yourself, how do you feel if you yelled at your child or a colleague because you’re in a rush to get out the door in the morning or finish a project? By practicing patience you’ll not only make better decisions, you’ll feel better about yourself every day.

14. Be Yourself

When you’re authentic, you’ll be more focused, build courage, establish your own identity, and be able to define your values and beliefs.

15. Stop Pointing Fingers

I’ll never forget a grade school teacher telling the class, “When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you.” We all face obstacles in life, but you can’t use that as an excuse to hold you back or to grow as person.

In the words of author and motivational speaker Jack Canfield:

“Remember, you and you alone are responsible for maintaining your energy. Give up blaming, complaining and excuse making, and keep taking action in the direction of your goals—however mundane or lofty they may be.”

Part of life is growing and becoming a better person—each and every day. What steps are you working on to improve your life?

Overqualified for Your Job? Here’s How You Can Start Making the Most of It waltz off your college graduation stage, diploma in hand, just knowing that you’re destined for greatness in your career. So, imagine your surprise when a few months later you find yourself as a receptionist with a completely unused bachelor’s degree. And you end up behind that desk for longer than you ever imagined. Yes, this is a true story. Well, ahem, it’s actually my story.

Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately), I knew I wasn’t alone in those circumstances. Getting the job of your dreams (or even in your field) can be tough. And, you might just wind up working in a position that doesn’t make great use of the degree you worked so hard for.

Trust me, I know this is frustrating and even a little demoralizing. But, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your seemingly futile and unrelated job.

Give these tactics a try to squeeze all that you can out of your current position. Or, just keep complaining. The choice is yours.

1. Ask for More Responsibility

If you’re stuck in a position that you consider to be beneath you, you’re likely bored silly at work. But, as much as you might like to assume otherwise, people can’t actually read your mind. So, how’s your manager supposed to know that you’re feeling antsy at your desk?

Never hesitate to approach your supervisor and request additional duties or responsibilities. I used this exact tactic while I worked as a receptionist, and was shocked at the extra things I was allowed to take on. I wound up managing the office’s social media accounts and authoring blog posts. Not only did this fill my dragging days, but it also gave me some degree-relevant experience that I could add to my resume.

Even if your manager doesn’t have too much to offer you, chances are he or she will be grateful for your initiative. A positive impression on your superior? Well, that never hurts!

2. Offer Help

Sure, maybe your boss doesn’t have any additional tasks to give you. But, open that same offer up to others in the office, and I’m sure your schedule will fill up in a real hurry.

Just because you feel underutilized in your position doesn’t mean that everybody else in the office feels that way about their own jobs. In fact, plenty of your office peers likely feel completely overwhelmed by their daily duties. So, be that friendly co-worker who reaches out with an offer to help.

You’ll develop a great reputation amongst your colleagues. Plus, you’ll get to try different things and likely pick up a few new skills. (And if nothing else, you’ll pick up a few ideas of jobs you’d never want to do.)

3. Network, Network, Network

Maybe you think you’re grossly overqualified for your current position. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything productive or beneficial while you’re there. In fact, there are plenty of things you can accomplish that will actually help your career in the long run—especially growing your network of professional contacts.

Even if you know your existing job is just a stepping stone, you should put a lot of effort into networking both internally and externally. Utilize meetings and company events to have thoughtful conversations with your organization’s clients, colleagues, and industry peers, and use all your thumb-twiddling free time to take a co-worker out to coffee (or, if more appropriate, drinks).

Maybe you think that all you’re getting out of your current job is some amazing Minesweeper skills—and you won’t be listing that on your resume. But, that well-connected contact you met at the company holiday party? Well, he or she might actually come in handy. So, make sure you leave a great impression.

4. Stay Positive

Being trapped in a job when you know you’re overqualified is frustrating. Like I said, I’ve been there. But, it’s important to keep your chin up!

Your attitude can have a big impact on the way you actually feel about your position. So, sulking into the office day in and day out with a negative mindset will likely only make you feel worse about your job.

Also, try to remember that even if this position isn’t your ideal, you’re still learning new skills—including time management, organization, and getting along with others. When I was a receptionist, I became a master of managing a multi-line phone. Eventually, when I moved on to interview for a marketing assistant position with a new company, guess what I was asked—if I knew how to operate a multi-line phone! It was a small office, and they had hopes that the marketing position could fill in on phones when the receptionist was out. Needless to say, I got the job.

Sure, my multi-line phone expertise wasn’t my only qualifying skill. But, it certainly didn’t hurt my chances. So, stay positive and remember that any job experience is still experience—regardless of how mundane or useless you think it is.

5. Organize Your Exit

Making the most of your current job is great. But, nobody is so naïve to think that you’ll never move up—and probably out. So, if you spend your days just twiddling your thumbs or twirling your hair at your desk, why not work on organizing your exit?

What exactly does this mean? Well, use your spare time to document your daily tasks and duties. Create manuals and standard operating procedures that detail how you get through your day, so that the person who eventually takes over your job has an easier time getting acclimated. Remember he or she might not be as overqualified as you—and will think fondly about the person who did all this work.

This is especially helpful if you end up moving up within the same company. It’s just less time you’ll need to spend training your replacement! But, either way, your employer will be incredibly grateful for your initiative and organization. Plus, this will give you something to do—other than staring at the clock and weeping on the inside.

Working a job that you feel overqualified for can definitely be disheartening. But, it’s up to you to make the best of it! Put these tips into action to get all that you can out of your current position—and impress your employer in the process.

What to Do When You Realize You’re in the Wrong Career

Realizing you’re in the wrong career can be a tough pill to swallow.

The typical reaction usually includes a mix of panic, desperation, and discouragement. Those four (or more) years of school? A complete waste. The internships and entry-level positions that helped you get your foot in the door? Meaningless. All that time and talent spent on a career you’ve now determined that you absolutely hate.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. When you first realize that you may want to make a career 180, try to avoid the following common reactions—and learn to look at the situation in a different (and more positive) light.

1. Jumping to the Worst-Case Scenario

You’ve realized you’re unhappy at work: You dread coming into the office each day, and you count down the minutes until the clock hits 5 PM. Immediately, you assume that to be happy, you need to make a major career switch—say, from designing healthcare software to running your own cupcake bakery.

Instead: Check Yourself
Take a step back. Before you start plotting your transition from software engineer to pastry chef extraordinaire, take some time to figure out if it’s truly your career that you don’t enjoy—or simply your current job environment.

Maybe you enjoy the basic job functions of your role, but you can’t stand the majority of your co-workers or your micromanaging boss, who’s hindering your career advancement. Perhaps you don’t enjoy developing software for the banking industry, but would be much more motivated to perform the same role for a nonprofit with a mission you could stand behind.

Try to pinpoint the exact reason for your discontent.
 If it’s something that could be remedied by taking a similar role in a new, different environment, it’s time to start job searching (start here). If you truly are ready for a career change, there’s still no need to panic. Just continue reading.

2. Major Discouragement

Deciding you want to change careers can be completely overwhelming. It feels like everything leading up to this point—your years of education, professional development, promotions, and late nights at the office—have all been a waste.

And so, you start doubting that you can do it. You start thinking that starting over is going to be ridiculously hard, that no one will want to hire you because of your lack of experience, and that you’ll never be as successful as other people in your new field because you got such a late start. Maybe it’s just not worth the risk.

Instead: Give Yourself a Pep Talk

Yes, changing careers is intimidating—but it’s also very possible. (Want proof? Here are nine real-life stories.)

So, take a few minutes to pump yourself back up. Remind yourself that shifting your profession is normal and that very few individuals have a perfectly linear career path. It took a lot of hard work to get to this point in your career, and that’s a great accomplishment. Now, you’re going to move on to something different—an equally great (if not even better!) accomplishment.

A career change may be tough, but the reward—a job you love!—is worth it. Giving yourself a pep talk may sound cheesy, but it can be the push you need to convince yourself to go for it.

3. Resignation That You’ll Have to Start From the Bottom

If you want to make a major career shift, your first reaction may involve a sigh of resignation as you assume that to actually get a job in your new target industry, you’ll need to go back to school for at least another four years, apply to only entry-level positions, or submit yourself to an unpaid internship.

Instead: Identify Your Transferrable Skills

Making a switch doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. There was something that drew you to your initial profession, and if you hone in on that, you may be able to determine a new career path that closely aligns with your skills—but also provides that satisfaction you’ve been lacking.

For example, maybe you chose journalism as a major in college and your first career because you love telling stories. Now, you’re desperate to get away from journalism, but it’s likely that passion for storytelling is still alive—you just have to look for a different way to apply it.

So, maybe you become a marketing writer, and you tell the stories of a company’s customers and how they benefited from the company’s product or service. Or, maybe you freelance as a website copywriter and tell the stories of new businesses through their web presence.

By identifying the skills you can—and want—to transition to your new career, you’ll be better equipped to explain to future employers how you’ll bring value to their company without starting from the very bottom.

The general themes in all of these reactions are fear, uncertainty, and doubt. But deciding that you’re ready to switch careers should instead incite a reaction of excitement—because this may be your opportunity to find a career you absolutely love.

17 Biggest Job Interview Mistakes


Seventeen, huh? Well, I wanted to cover how you can screw up a job interview relating to four of the five senses of sound, sight, touch, smell, excluding taste. I tossed in the pre-interview and post-interview errors. I also have a self-imposed under-one-thousand-word limit. (I crushed it in a mere 705 words and even counted these thirteen.) Voilà, now you have your seventeen biggest job interview mistakes.

On we go…

Yes, you can lose the game before it starts…

Not researching the company and job interviewers. This is a big no-no especially because it’s too easy to find information in cyberspace. I’ll excuse the lack of research regarding the job interviewers, but only if you don’t know their names.

Not researching yourself. You need to know what you want and what makes you happy. How will you otherwise ask appropriate questions to determine whether the company can satisfy your lengthy list of needs? Not sure how to do this? Check out Interview Intervention: Communication That Gets You Hired (

Not being prepared with an abundance of questions. Do you care? Then make a list. There are thirty-nine good ones in Interview Intervention( Flip to Chapter Seven if you’re short on time.

Not deodorizing your social media platform. More than 80% of employers will check your LinkedIn profile, Facebook Page, and Twitter handle. Do the math.

Being late. You know the time. You can’t make it on time?

Do you want to kick or receive?

Not shaking hands and looking the interviewer in the eye and maintaining that eye contact throughout the job interview. She’s not going to bite you even though she looks like she might.

How many ways can you fumble your answer to the question? Uh, five, I think.

Not directly answering the question.
 This is the first way you can drop the ball. Answer the question she asked.

Not providing enough color. Number two. Make sure to provide enough information. One-word answers generally don’t fly. If you’re not sure whether you’ve provided enough information, there is a really slick technique that many people don’t use enough. It’s called asking.

Not providing the information the interviewer actually needed to know. This one is for the graduate course. Job interviewers are usually untrained and ineffective likely because it’s not technically in their job descriptions. They ask questions that yield poor answers filled with information that isn’t helpful for them to determine whether you’ll be a good employee.

Providing too much information.
 If you see an eye roll, yawn, or watch-glance, you can bet you need to stop talking. If you see all three, just pack up.

Criticizing. This is an all-encompassing remark. This means no bad mouthing a previous employer, team, coworker, friend, spouse, whoever, or whatever.

Am I keeping you from something?

Answering any type of distraction.
 Looking counts. Hearing an email or chat beep counts even if it’s in your brief bag. Please turn off your computer, iPad, and phone. Thank you. Enjoy the show.

Falling flat at the end and not proactively expressing interest. Make sure you indicate you are interested in the job. Don’t forget to add “why” you’re interested so the interviewer knows it’s not a hollow remark.

Nice suit!

Dressing like a slob. Watch your ironing, tailoring, skirt length, and so forth.

Is that your hand on my…

Don’t touch. You think I’m kidding? Watch the hugs or pats or anything that isn’t a firm handshake.

Did the janitors work last night?

Don’t smell. I don’t care if you just bought the new Polo fragrance. Watch the number of pumps you hit your body with because anything that makes the interviewer sneeze is generally a bad idea.

Why did I tie this string on my finger?

Forgetting to gather her contact information so you can provide a thank-you email and/or card. You guessed it. Page 83 of Interview Intervention( a sample. Have a nice day.

4 Ways to Become Known as a Career Builder—and Not a Job Hopper

Business Graph
Business Graph with arrow showing profits and gains

It’s completely normal to change jobs every few years. The days when people clocked in and out at the same company for years (and years) on end are over—no one expects that anymore. In fact, you might even be judged if you stick around the same company for too long.

And yes, with all this moving around, people don’t develop the same kind of loyalty that comes with working at the same firm for 25 years. Again, that’s OK. What’s not OK is bouncing around from position to position, leaving the job the second you get bored.

Why? Because you’ll earn a reputation as a job hopper, and after you hop one too many times, employers will start to worry that you’re not taking your career seriously. A 24-year-old exploring her options is fine. A 34-year-old who’s had a different job every year since graduation, not so much.

So, how can you prove you’re committed to your career path without sticking around at your current company forever? Well, there are four things you should do at every single job—for your own personal career growth, but also to prove to a hiring manager that you’ll make a positive impact on the company, regardless of long you stick around.

1. Learn Something New

If there’s only one thing you can say to prove your time with a company was well spent, it should be that you’ve learned something you didn’t know before. Maybe you had a marketing position and you mastered a new software application that’ll help you harvest and apply data to drive successful campaigns. Maybe you did some cross-functional work between operations and sales to better understand customer requirements. Or, maybe you attended weekly strategy sessions and drew some innovative conclusions on the future direction of your industry.

Whatever you do, be sure you’re always learning and growing. Most employers will give you these development opportunities, but smart employees will find a way to seize them regardless. If no one’s offering this learning experience to you, seek it out within the company or take classes elsewhere.

2. Accomplish Something Hard

It’s no secret that career growth demands progress, and progress requires accomplishments. That’s why it’s easy to spot the difference between those who switch jobs out of boredom and those who do so to further their careers. The former group will come across as flighty and indecisive, unable to point to any worthwhile endeavors on a resume. The latter, on the other hand, will have meaningful and specific obstacles they’ve surmounted.

When you’ve only got a few years with a company, you need to demonstrate and test your ability as often as you can. These displays of productivity show future employers that you’re a person who gets cracking on day one, someone who thrives on setting and achieving his or her goals. If there are currently no challenges in your way, create one (by launching a new initiative, not by deleting the company’s data server), and overcome it.

3. Make Some Mistakes, Then Learn From Them

Look, nobody’s perfect. Advancing your career is a process that often requires a few stumbles along the way—so before you leave a job, be sure to try and tackle something you aren’t completely certain you can do. If you make mistakes, then so be it. You’ll show people you’re not afraid to test a theory and see what happens. In fact, you might discover there’s more value to extract from your current position, in which case it might not be time to leave yet. Or you might uncover some truths about what you truly enjoy at work and where you want to go in the future.

The bottom line is that character and determination are built through trial and error. So, be sure that each position you hold is one in which you have to overcome a difficulty, take responsibility, and inevitably grow from the experience.

4. Get—and Stay—Connected

Everyone knows that the world of recruiting and referrals has been forever changed by social media. It’s easier than ever to leverage networks like Twitter and LinkedIn to find new job opportunities, which is why you should establish connections with as many colleagues as you can while you are working with a company. You never know when you’ll be able to help them out with a referral down the road, or request a reference for yourself.

Keep in mind that connecting—truly connecting—is about a lot more than just friending someone. It’s about taking the time to get to know each person you add to your circle. While that can entail mentoring or teaming up for a project, it can also be as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee.

With the number of career opportunities available today, it’s no surprise that people want to move around. But before you leave one job for the next, be sure you’ve done everything possible to get the most value out of the experience. If you don’t, your resume will eventually reflect what you’ve missed—and more importantly, you’ll have let a good opportunity go to waste.

7 Ways to Start Building Your Leadership Skills Today (Even If You Don’t Have a Management Position)


This story first appeared on The Muse, a Web destination with exciting job opportunities and expert career advice.

Regardless of where you are on the career ladder right now, there will be a point when you’ll be handed a leadership role and your team will expect you to hit the ground running. Maybe you’re aiming to lead an initiative, chosen to lead a team project out of the blue, or given the opportunity to apply for a management position earlier than you thought.

Whatever the case, you’re probably wondering how you develop leadership skills on the fly. Sure, you probably have a rough idea of the basics from watching your manager (and her manager). But doing it effectively requires finesse and complex knowledge.

So, rather than waiting for the opportunity to arise, start developing those skills now. Here’s how:
1. Take a Leadership Personality Test
To improve your skills, you need a starting point. First things first, take a minute and spend some time thinking about how you behave under stressful situations. What is your preferred leadership style? Do you ask others for their opinions? Do you tell everyone what to do and how you expect them to do it? Do you lead from the front? Do you worry about where your team is headed and whether there is a clear vision ahead? You’ll gain great insight into your preferred style of leadership by taking a few minutes to introspectively think about these questions.

Unsure what your tendencies are? Take a quiz! There are many leadership-style quizzes online, but one of my favorites is on This test will determine your leadership personality, and it will also identify how you can improve your abilities and build on your specific strengths.

2. Keep a Journal
You’ve probably heard this before: Journaling is good for your career for many reasons. Bonus: It’s something you can start today without a big investment of time or money.

In this case, I recommend making this journal strictly about your career-;save reflections on that awkward exchange with an old friend for a different diary. Note instances you could’ve handled differently or times you could’ve communicated better. Keep records of your own and your team’s accomplishments, long-term goals, mishandled situations, time-management, and more. You can write it out by hand or keep track online (and if you opt for the online route, I suggest DayOne).

Unsure where to start? Write an entry on what you consider to be the five best traits of a leader.

3. Find Your Passion
In order to be an effective leader, you need to be passionate about what you do. Think about it: It’s inspiring to follow a person who’s all-in-;who eats, sleeps, and breathes the work. Of course, passion isn’t really something you can fake.So, if your current job feels like little more than a paycheck, take a “passion test” to discover what you care about. Go to Pymetrics, play 12 short games, and you’ll get an analysis on your personality traits (cognitive, emotional, and social) to further understand what drives and motivates you.

When you’re truly engaged with your work, others will be more likely to follow you.

4. Beef Up Your Communication Skills
Even someone who excels in many aspects of leadership will probably hit a ceiling if he or she is not a good communicator. Starting now, you should aim to over-communicate with everyone on your team, so nothing gets misunderstood or misinterpreted. Set up routine meetings with your manager and any colleagues working on ongoing projects with you (even if they are only brief check-ins).

No matter where you are on the chain, you can work on this. Do you excel at written reports, but clam up when it’s time to speak during a meeting? Alternatively, are you a natural when it comes to conversation-;but secretly worried that your lack of grammar know-how will hold you back? Instead of relying on your strong suit, beef up whatever area of your communication skills is lacking. It will make you a more valuable employee now, and a better leader later.

5. Become a Leader Outside of Work
Being a charity board member is one of the best ways of getting hands-on team building and leadership-building experiences. Yes, it’s true that some organizations have boards composed of people with massive name recognition, experience, or bank accounts. But, there are probably numerous nonprofits in your community that would be thrilled to have you join and offer your time and skills.

Not only will you be helping a great cause that you feel dearly about, but you will learn about each facet of the organization for which you have oversight. Never seen an operational budget before-;now you will!To get started, ask friends, family, or Google for suggestions. And if you’re still stumped (or perhaps overwhelmed with all the options), check out one of these organizations: AllForGood,CreateTheGood, HandsOnNetwork, and VolunteerMatch.

6. Learn How to Build Solid Teams
Another really important part of being a successful leader is putting together the right team. Start developing those skills now by paying attention and taking note of your co-workers’ strengths and weaknesses. Have you noticed who does (and doesn’t) seem to work well together? Or maybe if Terry’s skill set perfect complements Maribel’s?

Understanding personality dynamics and how different types work together will enable you to be a strong team member, regardless of your actual position. Finally, remember that the best leaders also reflect on their own weaknesses and see people who have different strengths as important contributors (not threats).

7. Take an Online Leadership Building Courses
Take an online course geared toward building your professional skills. For example, at my company MOGUL, we have the MOGUL Career Course, with resources and expert advice provided within that will help accelerate you into a stronger, more confident leader.

Other companies with courses that help you develop additional facets of your professional life includeCoursera and One Month. Check out a few options and pick the one that’s best for you.

Sometimes being a leader includes a fancy title-;but it doesn’t have to. No matter where you are in your career, the steps above can help you grow your skills, so when that big opportunity does come your way, you’ll be ready.